Connor turned four at the beginning of April. Half the time I can't believe it's already been four years, because it feels like just yesterday I could cradle him in the crook of my arm. The other half of the time I can't believe it's only been four years. Seems like the little guy has been part of our family forever.
We've spent that four years figuring out a lot of things about parenting in general and parenting a child with special needs specifically. Now we're about to embark on a whole new journey, and we'll have new territory to explore. There's a four year old girl waiting for a family over in Thailand, and we're hoping that family is going to be us.
It's interesting, the reaction I get when I tell people we're adopting another child with special needs (our future daughter is deaf). People seem to fall into one of two categories; they think I'm a saint, or they think I'm nuts. Personally I'd say I fall way, way closer to the latter than to the former, but I'd be more likely to cite my tendency to talk to myself in the car and my obsession with old time radio shows than our adoption plans as an indication of my insanity.
I certainly don't understand why people associate adoption with sainthood. I mean, it's not like Jeremy and I are doing it to make the world a better place or something. We get a KID out of the deal. This is not an altruistic thing. It's a similar reaction to what we get when we tell people that our son has special needs, and I don't like it hearing about him any more than I like hearing it about our daughter-to-be.
I think one of the reasons why that reaction grates on my nerves so much is because it implies that kids with special needs are a burden; that they're somehow second best when compared to kids without special needs. I really, really don't like it when they imply those things right in front of my son. Not only do I not see Connor as a burden at all, but I think it's a privilege to be able to parent him, just the way I would think it's a privilege to be a parent, period. Not everybody is cut out for the job, but sainthood is certainly not required.
We won't be bringing our daughter home for a long while yet, so I have time to think about my responses to these kinds of questions and the inevitable reactions we'll get from parenting a deaf child who is obviously not related to us. We're pretty used to the staring in the grocery store already, so that's not a problem. But I want to make sure that I have my ducks in a row by the time she gets here so that if someone implies she's not quite as good as typical (or biological) children or that she's lucky to have us, I'll be able to answer them in a way that lets her know it's the other way around.
We'll be lucky to have her.
Jess blogs over at http://connorssong.blogspot.com